The Dallas Mavericks blew the doors off the Portland Trail Blazers on the road Wednesday night, 132-112. Jalen Brunson led the way with 20 points and 11 assists. Luka Doncic chipped in a 15 point, 10 rebound, 15 assist triple double. Anfernee Simons scored 23 in defeat for the Blazers.
The shots fell early and often for the Mavericks as the Trail Blazers were dealing with a lengthy list of missing players. A strong scoring quarter for Kristaps Porzingis powered Dallas early as the Mavericks jumped out to a 40-25 lead after just twelve minutes of play.
Portland’s porous defense gave Dallas plenty of opportunities to hold and extend the lead, which they did at times in the quarter. But the Mavericks got cute with the ball often enough to give the Blazers hope. After leading by as many as 18 in the quarter, Dallas took a 68-59 lead into the half.
Dallas continued to play down to their opponent for much of the third. The Mavericks went to Porzingis and Maxi Kleber for shots early in the frame, to little result as the Blazers chiseled into the Dallas lead. Portland managed to get the lead down to five with four minutes or so remaining before Dwight Powell led a late charge to re-establish a strong Maverick lead. Dallas entered the fourth up big, 98-81.
Despite Portland’s attempts, the Mavericks eventually buried the Blazers, allowing for coach Jason Kidd to empty the benches. Brunson helped close the door early, scoring and dishing. Doncic played long enough to notch a triple double. Josh Green scored a pair of and-one opportunities down the stretch. Dallas leaves Portland with a 132-112 victory
Two Powells enter, one Powell leaves
Dwight Powell entered the game with 5:04 in the third quarter when Dallas was up just five points. Between his hustle, screen setting, and five made free throws, Powell was a huge part of helping Dallas re-establish the lead the Mavericks had built up in the first half. In the fourth quarter, his activity frustrated Jusif Nurkic, drawing a technical foul after a made basket, and getting a put back dunk. Powell’s 15 points and five rebounds were huge in a game where the Mavericks needed his energy.
Compared to Norman Powell with the Blazers, who shot the ball horribly (5-of-17), to the point that had he played to his averages, this game would’ve been much closer throughout the contest.
The Portland defense is atrocious and it gave the Dallas offense life
To think, there was a point in time where we all just accepted the very bad defense these Dallas Mavericks played for most of last season. Portland is doing their very best 2020-21 Maverick impression, giving up after the most basic of rotations, which resulted in clean look after clean look for Dallas. The 16 made threes were a huge boon to Dallas, considering how cold the shooting has been for the team lately.
Jalen Brunson, the engine
After two tough national television games for Jalen Brunson in the last week, it was refreshing to see him put on a total show (20 points, six rebounds, 11 assists). The smaller Portland defenders caused Brunson no issues and he found both the bottom of the net and his teammates throughout the night.
Kane Fitzgerald, star of the show
I flipped back and forth between the broadcasts and both Portland and the Dallas crews said Fitzgerald’s name way too often. If you forgot, he’s the ref who ejected Porzingis back in the 19-20 playoffs against the Clippers for... well for looking at him wrong? For protecting Luka Doncic?
Anyway, we tune in to watch the players, not the ref who wants to be on television. He refereed a poor game too, while we’re talking about him.
Finding offensive consistency for Kristaps Porzingis
After scoring 14 easy points in the first quarter, it looked like it was going to be a dominant game for Porzingis. Yet he finished with just 22 points on 18 shots and was frustrated for much of the game.
The Mavericks actually spammed the Doncic-Porzingis pick and roll for once, but Doncic either couldn’t or didn’t find Porzingis until too late in a number of circumstances. At other times Porzingis just couldn’t connect on clean looks. He’ll find his way, in fact I’d argue Porzingis working through these issues against bad teams is just fine. With Tim Hardaway Jr. likely out for a while, the Mavericks have to keep finding ways to score points and one straight forward way is their star big man finding his scoring touch again following his COVID absence.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.